What to know when making medical decisions after an accident
At best, a car accident leaves you shaken and with minor vehicle damage. For many people, the effects last much longer as they manage injuries, and possibly court cases, following the event. Below, we take a deeper look at making medical decisions after an accident.
At the scene of the accident
Your first medical decision happens in the moments right after the accident occurs. Do you need an ambulance? Even if you can walk away from the scene, should you visit your doctor for an examination?
Except in the most minor fender-benders, we recommend visiting a doctor after a car accident. Even if you feel fine at the time, adrenaline can mask a lot of symptoms. As the shock of the event wears off, you might begin to notice symptoms like numb hands, headaches, dizziness, confusion and more.
A doctor’s exam in the first few days after an accident can rule out severe injuries and uncover hidden damage. Most importantly, it can help you begin immediate treatment, which can make a big difference in how well and how quickly you recover.
At the scene of the accident, never say “I am not hurt” to the other party or bystanders. You can’t know for sure the extent of your injuries until a medical professional examines you. In some cases, symptoms won’t present until a week or two later. In addition, do not sign any insurance waivers at the scene.
The first few weeks after an accident
Early intervention and rehabilitation can help prevent long-term complications associated with many injuries, so avoid the temptation to “wait and see.”
Concussions and other brain injuries, for example, don’t always show up on traditional medical scans. If you have a concussion and continue to participate in sports, or work a job that requires a lot of physical exertion, you could cause more damage. The same holds true for a variety of injuries.
An accurate diagnosis should be your first step. From there, you and your doctor will work out a rehabilitation and treatment plan that makes the most sense for your case. Early consultations with medical professionals can also help document your injuries should your case need to go to court at a future date. Protect yourself by seeking medical treatment and by following doctors’ orders.
Some injuries require months, or even years, of physical therapy or other interventions to help you regain your quality of life. Other injuries may become lifelong disabilities, which means you will need long-term medical attention, assistive devices (such as a wheelchair) and other resources to support your day-to-day activities.
Again, your doctor can help you determine which rehabilitation program you should follow, but some options include:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Aquatic therapy
- Orthopedic rehabilitation following surgery
- Brain injury rehabilitation; neurological interventions
- Talk therapy or other mental health interventions
Throughout your treatment, keep clear records of your symptoms, your doctor’s visits and expenses. If anyone disputes your case, these records will help protect you.
Who pays my medical expenses?
After a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover your necessary medical expenses, lost wages and more. If the insurance company offers a low settlement, you have options for recovering a higher settlement to cover your expenses. Consult with a skilled personal injury attorney, and don’t accept the insurance company’s first offer as the final word.
Additional insurance policies might kick in to help you cover these expenses, including your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, your med pay policy and others. An attorney can help you identify all the sources of coverage available to you.
If you have been injured in an accident, seek medical treatment immediately and follow your doctor’s orders. Then contact us for a free case evaluation.